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9/3/2010
12:47 PM
Jim Rapoza
Jim Rapoza
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Is The Smartphone The OS Or The Hardware?

Ask someone what kind of desktop or laptop they own and they will most likely respond with the operating system name. And it used to be that if you asked about their smartphone, they would probably respond with the hardware name. But that may be changing.

Ask someone what kind of desktop or laptop they own and they will most likely respond with the operating system name. And it used to be that if you asked about their smartphone, they would probably respond with the hardware name. But that may be changing.In the world of PCs and laptops, this has usually been the dynamic. People say I use Windows or Linux or the Mac (which does tend to mean both the hardware and the software). It's pretty rare to hear someone say that they have a Dell or an HP or even say an Apple MacBook (at least not right at first).

But in the phone world most people haven't really cared if their phone ran Windows Mobile or a mobile version of Linux or whatever the vendor put on the phone. Their phone was a Razr or a Blackberry or a Palm or an iPhone.

But recently I've been noticing more of a change in this dynamic. Now, more people I talk to, including those who don't follow technology all that much, are much more aware of the software running on their phones.

A friend of mine who is not that tech savvy recently said to me that she was interested in switching to an Android phone, but she didn't specify which model, she had just seen other phones running Android and was interested in it. And she's not alone, I've seen this from other users.

Of course, if you're a hardware maker, this is the last thing you want to see. Phone makers don't want to see their shiny devices relegated to the place that PC hardware has taken over the last twenty years. They'd like to see the device remain the main point of choice.

And to a large degree I think that the choice of hardware will still remain important, as there are still many ways to offer different form factors for a variety of user types.

But I also see the rise in importance of the mobile OS as a very good thing. If the OS gains in importance and becomes more standardized, it will improve both application choice and system compatibility across devices.

So, what kind of phone do you have? An Android phone? An iOS phone? Microsoft, Linux? Let us know.

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